The Hollowmen

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The Hollowmen
The Hollowmen (DVD cover)
Genre Situation comedy-Drama
Created by Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
Directed by Rob Sitch
Opening theme"North by North" by The Bats
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12
Executive producer(s) Working Dog Productions
Producer(s) Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
Production company(s) Working Dog Productions
Original network ABC1
Audio format Stereo
First shown inAustralia
Original releaseJuly 2008 (2008-07) 
October 2008 (2008-10)
External links

The Hollowmen is an Australian television comedy series set in the offices of the Central Policy Unit, a fictional political advisory unit personally set up by the Prime Minister to help him get re-elected. Their brief is long-term vision; to stop worrying about tomorrow's headlines, and focus on next week's.


The Hollowmen was first broadcast on Wednesday, 9 July 2008, on ABC1. Each series comprises six half-hour episodes. [1] On the eve of the first episode's national premiere, the series was approved by the ABC for a second series. The second series was screened right after the first, beginning on 13 September 2008. [2]

The comedy-drama satire is produced by Working Dog Productions, which was also responsible for Frontline , The Panel , Thank God You're Here and Utopia . The music used during the opening credits is an edited instrumental version of the 1987 song "North by North" by New Zealand band The Bats. A special one-off presentation of The Hollowmen was created by Working Dog and played at Parliament House in Canberra on 11 March 2009, in support of the ABC's funding bid for 2009-12.


Main cast

Supporting cast

The Prime Minister is an unseen character.

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 69 July 2008 (2008-07-09)27 August 2008 (2008-08-27)
2 63 September 2008 (2008-09-03)8 October 2008 (2008-10-08)


Series 1

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Fat Chance" Rob Sitch Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
9 July 2008 (2008-07-09)
The Central Policy Unit must come up with a meaningful plan to combat obesity in schools in order to keep the Prime Minister's momentum rolling.
22"The Ambassador"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
16 July 2008 (2008-07-16)
A troublesome Senator agrees to leave politics behind if he gets a nice diplomatic posting. But, unfortunately for the Central Policy Unit, Phillip is about to give a speech outlining a plan commissioned by the PM announcing restrictions that mean only the most qualified people are eligible for appointment as ambassadors for the nation.
33"A Time for Talk"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
23 August 2008 (2008-08-23)
When conflict breaks out overseas, the Central Policy Unit must find a way to intervene without hurting the international relationships. Murph quickly finds that there is a lot of talk, but not much action.
44"Rear Vision"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
30 July 2008 (2008-07-30)
The budget lacks an eye-catching "centrepiece" and Tony asks Murph to come up with a last minute policy which will give the PM the visionary public image he wants.
55"Military Matters"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
6 August 2008 (2008-08-06)
After an embarrassing incident at an air force base brings military recruitment into the headlines, the Central Policy Unit must make life in the uniform appealing to Generation Y.
66"A Housing Crisis"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
27 August 2008 (2008-08-27)
A report into the cost of maintaining Kirribilli House comes back to bite Ian. With Phillip in charge, the report looks set to embarrass the PM right before another interest rate rise, unless Murph can figure out a way to lower Kirribilli's price tag and make it less elitist.

Series 2

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
71"Shared Interests" Rob Sitch Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
3 September 2008 (2008-09-03)
A scandal with a Junior Minister and poor fashion sense leads to a "blippy dip" in the PM's public image. Murph handles a government crackdown whilst Tony tackles pin-stripes and French cuffs.
82"Edifice Complex"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
10 September 2008 (2008-09-10)
The PM has recently opened several buildings commissioned by his predecessors, which starts him thinking about his own legacy. Unfortunately for Murph, legacy translates to a massive building somewhere in the parliamentary triangle.
93"Wonder Drug"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
17 September 2008 (2008-09-17)
Pressure mounts on the Government to fund an expensive new pill, despite evidence that it may not be worth funding at all.
104"Vulnerable to Attack"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
24 September 2008 (2008-09-24)
The PM's plans to increase spending on national security run into trouble when the Department starts talking about cost-cutting. Meanwhile the Unit ends up exploiting some eager High School students who have won a trip to Canberra.
115"A Waste of Energy"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
1 October 2008 (2008-10-01)
Global warming is hot on the agenda with the Unit taking up the government's new 'carbon challenge'. But a blindsighted promise to raise emission standards with China may cause some serious problems for international relations.
126"A Quiet January"Rob SitchSanto Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Rob Sitch
8 October 2008 (2008-10-08)
The second half of January has no news stories. But a surprise trip for the PM to Antarctica is soon devised to fill this space.

Episode ratings

The first season premiered at 9:30 pm on Wednesday 9 July 2008. After episode 5, it was removed from schedule due to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The season finale aired at 9:00 pm on Wednesday 27 August. [3]

#Episode No.AirdateTimeRatings
(5 capital cities)
Timeslot rankOverall nightly rank
1.01Fat Chance9 July 2008Wednesday 9:30pm1,185,0001st13th
1.02The Ambassador16 July 20081,040,0002nd16th
1.03A Time for Talk23 July 2008950,0003rd18th
1.04Rear Vision30 July 2008996,0002nd16th
1.05Military Matters6 August 2008816,0003rd24th
1.06A Housing Crisis27 August 2008Wednesday 9:00pm926,0002nd15th
2.01Shared Interests3 September 2008931,0002nd17th
2.02Edifice Complex10 September 20081,044,0002nd16th
2.03Wonder Drug17 September 2008941,0003rd19th
2.04Vulnerable to Attack24 September 2008906,0003rd15th
2.05A Waste of Energy1 October 2008877,0003rd16th
2.06A Quiet January8 October 2008931,0003rd16th


It was partially inspired by Cilauro's 1996 documentary The Campaign about Paul Keating's failed election. They initially wanted to make a series about an independent politician, but decided that such people didn't really hold much power and wanted the explore the idea that politics is run like a corporation. [4]


Debi Enker from the Sydney Morning Herald described the first episode of The Hollowmen as using "low-key style [and] sandpaper-dry wit" to show the hollowness of the political newscycle. [5]

Opposition leader Tony Abbott used its premiere to criticise the government, claiming that the "Howard government didn't work like that", and that the series would not have made sense under a Liberal government. [6]

It won the 2009 Logie for Most Outstanding Comedy Program. [7] [8]


In 2008 the Sydney Morning Herald interviewed political advisors about the accuracy of the show. Political advisors noted that the characters were more cynical and amoral that they and their colleagues, and played to people's prejudices, but a few conceded that they knew people like Rob Sitch's character, Tony. They found that pollsters were portrayed as having too much power in the show, and noted that senior public servants were not as innocent as they were portrayed.

In contrast they found larger themes of media driven policies, "arse-covering" and superficial treatment of complex issues were "remarkably accurate", noting that the Melbourne 2am Lockout laws were a good example. [9]

Home media

Series 1 and 2 of The Hollowmen is available on DVD as a three disc box set. [10]

See also

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  1. "Working Dog starts rounding up the Hollowmen". 8 June 2008.
  2. "New Tom Gleisner TV show The Hollowmen a hit unseen". The Daily Telegraph. 9 July 2008.
  3. Knox, David (3 August 2008). "Bumped: The Hollowmen" . Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  4. Michael Idato (7 July 2008). "Capital punishment". Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. Enker, Debi (8 July 2008). "The Hollowmen". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  6. Dart, Jonathan (11 July 2008). "Hollowmen are Rudd's men:Abbott". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  7. "2009 Logies: The winners". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 May 2009.
  8. "Hollowmen takes top comedy Logie". ABC News. 3 May 2009.
  9. Fyfe, Melissa; Gordon, Josh (17 August 2008). "Hollow truths". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. "Roadshow Entertainment catalogue listing".